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Going on tour with the Meddiebempsters

March 29, 2024

Courtesy of the Meddiebempsters
JOURNEYMEN: The Meddiebempsters pose with Brandeis University’s Up the Octave. The two groups performed together during the Meddies’ tour.

Over spring break, the Meddiebempsters, one of Bowdoin’s six a cappella groups and one of two all male groups, went on tour across the Northeast. The annual trip serves as an opportunity for the “Meddies” to rehearse their repertoire, collaborate with groups from other colleges and bond within the squad.

The weeklong tour is a beloved tradition for the members of the Meddiebempsters. The group attempted a tour in 2022 that was cut short after a member tested positive for Covid early in the week. Last year, the group successfully completed their first full tour since the onset of the pandemic, followed by another full trip this year.

The Meddies started their 2024 tour with a stop in Medford, Mass. to perform with the Tufts’ Q! a cappella group. Members said that visiting and performing with other groups is central to their stint away from Brunswick.

“It was really cool to hear the other groups. Some of their singers and soloists were ridiculously good, and I really enjoyed that,” group member Sammy Dereje ’25 said.

Henry Jodka ’24, the group’s music director, described a riff-off with other a cappella groups at Tufts akin to scenes from the 2012 comedy hit “Pitch Perfect.”

“We had a real-life “Pitch Perfect” moment where we all stood around in a circle and people would just go in and start singing the chorus of the song and repeating it,” Jodka said. “Everybody on the sidelines would try to improv [and] underscore it with our voices.”

The group stayed in the Boston area for a few days and also performed with a cappella groups from Smith College and Brandeis University. Other stops included Providence, R.I., New Canaan, Conn. and New York City.

In addition to working and performing with groups from other schools, the Meddies enjoyed socializing with their a cappella counterparts during the tour’s downtime.

“[At Brandeis] we performed with Up the Octave, and we actually had a mixer the night before, so we kind of got to know them a little bit before performing, so that was a lot of fun,” Jodka said.

The group has several performances coming up this semester both on and off campus, and they plan to bring back what they have learned from other groups throughout the tour to enhance their performances here at Bowdoin. The Meddiebempsters’ business director, Jacob Trachtenberg ’24, explained how the group was inspired after watching a Brown University a cappella group warm up, and Trachtenberg implemented some of their ideas into the Meddies’ own warm up.

“It’s really fun to be able to meet new people and compare and contrast ourselves to other groups and see what we can learn from them,” Trachtenberg noted.

A crucial aspect of the tour that Dereje, Jodka and Trachtenberg all emphasized was the bonding that happened among the Meddiebempsters. All three said traveling and spending a week with the group brought them together in ways beyond their time on campus. Sleeping in a groupmate’s basement, going go-karting, breaking out of an escape room and singing together countless times are why the group goes on its spring tour, binding the group together and welcoming its first years.

“We love going on tour. It’s a staple of being a Meddie,” Dereje said. “I went abroad in the fall so I could go on tour in the spring.”

Not only were Meddies able to bond with each other this year, they also met a Meddie alum—completely by chance. Towards the end of the tour, the Meddies were busking in New York City’s Battery Park and a Meddie alum from the Class of 2016 happened to stumble upon the group just as they were about to start packing up. He joined the current Meddies to sing one of their classics, Duke Ellington’s “Mood Indigo.”

As the group returns to campus to continue the spring semester, Trachtenberg expressed confidence that the Meddiebempsters are well positioned to continue their musical artistry at Bowdoin and beyond.

“We’ve gotten to bond a lot as a group,” he said. “Spending a whole week together 24/7 really solidifies that even more. I think the chemistry we have will be even more visible during performances.


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